Firearm violence is more than a national problem; it a national disgrace that increasingly defines our national identity, our common humanity and our ‘witness’ in the world. If history is any indication, little or nothing will change in the land of the free and the home of the targeted.
I kept hearing the sound of white people clapping and chanting “Lock HER up!”, “Lock HIM up!” (referencing Hillary Clinton and George Soros even after bombs mailed to them were found), and “CNN sucks!” (also after a bomb was found). And clapping their agreement for rhetorical images that include “enemies of the people,” “immigrant invaders” and a “low IQ” black woman.
Learning dissent is never easy. One person’s prophet is another’s anti-Christ. One person’s conscience is another’s bigotry. Sometimes dissent can get you damned. Sometimes (like now?) silence can too.
Twenty-first century humanity is eating, drinking, marrying and unmarrying, driving, flying, breathing and buying while planet earth decomposes before our very eyes. The fate that befell Noah’s generation seems headed right at us. This time, however, there’s no ark. It is a planetary crisis from which no one can escape.
Across four decades, listening to students (“those who are taught”) has provoked me to action and insight I might otherwise have dodged. When students have moved classes from instruction to provocation, I’ve not only been awakened, I’ve often been reborn.
President Trump’s dinner with “evangelical” ministers is a reminder that American Christians have every right to support the politicians and policies that their consciences may dictate. But none of us can claim to have it both ways – dictating moral constraints to the masses while excusing them in governmental officials for political purposes.
Ongoing revelations regarding sexual abuse in the Christian Church mean that we’d all better prepare our hearts – spiritually, individually and communally – with the courage of conscience to live and act in a Church and a country that is losing its bearings.
While responding to fundamentalism is exhausting, it is essential to question its immediate impact on American church/state, particularly since fundamentalist ideology seems to have become the default interpretation many American Christians implicitly or explicitly bring to bear on questions of scripture, doctrine, church and society.
My longtime friend and mentor Samuel Hill affirmed “evangelical Christianity” for its emphasis “on righteousness, love of neighbor, disciplined behavior, and a sensitive conscience.” Restoring those now-diminished gospel traits will require strong doses of “moral chemotherapy,” beyond culture privilege. It’s worth the treatment.